Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Herbal Luncheon in the Garden

May is such a pretty time on the prairie.    Days are milder and the humidity of summer is yet to come.    May is a perfect time to have luncheon in the garden.

Often when I give a talk or do a cooking class out of town, I donate a luncheon at Linderhof for the lucky winner and 3 friends -- to join me for a luncheon at Linderhof.

Janice won (and she says she never wins) and brought her sister and her mother.    When I talked to her the day before the luncheon, I told her the forecast was supposed to be nice and that I was planning luncheon in the garden.

It was clear and sunny and not too warm and so I set the iron table under the pergola for lunch.

The table under the pergola is perfect for a May luncheon.

It's nice to actually feel like you're in the garden.    And because the class that I gave, where Janice's name was the lucky one drawn, was on herbs, I decided to fix an herbal luncheon.

Sunny now but the table is shady by luncheon time.

Two cloths -- a white damask under cloth -- there is just something elegant -- whether inside or out -- about tablecloths that go to the ground and a shorter lace one on top.

Crisp white and garden herbs

Flowers in the table -- from my garden, and lacy shadows from the trees overhead.    Dishes and glasses are inside -- we don't like insects in or on our dishes.    I used, of course, my blue and white transfer for the main course and F. Winkle Whieldon Ware plates for dessert.

An herbal bouquet

An F. Winkle Whieldon Ware sugar bowl filled with lemon balm and lavender -- an herbal luncheon should have an herbal centerpiece!

An herbal favor and a keepsake menu

White linen napkins in silver napkin rings at each place as well as a menu (with a picture of the garden) and a lavender "bottle" -- a favor for the ladies.

The menu --  all delightfully herbal . . .

Ladies lunch from the herb garden

Classic quiche lorraine, but made herbal with thyme and parsley; a salad of baby greens, roasted grape tomatoes and an artichoke heart with a dressing made from mayonnaise, homemade pesto (just a half teaspoon) and cream to thin; and corn made lines with a sage leaf baked in each one.

And when I do herbal luncheons, I love to do herbal desserts.    For most people think of herbs as savory -- not sweet.   And I love to do lavender desserts for most people think of lavender for the linen closet -- not for the kitchen.

Lavender compliments the lemon cake.

Lemon lavender mini bunt cakes with a lavender glaze and decorated with a crystalized lavender blossom.

The cakes matched the centerpiece of lemon balm and lavender -- little details but one that makes the luncheon special.

They're easy cakes -- Ina's lemon yogurt cake to which I added a big palmful of dried lavender blossoms. And baked, instead of a loaf pan in individual bundt pans -- I adore individual desserts because they look "whole" but miniature.


1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/3 c. sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 palmful culinary dried lavender buds
1 T. culinary dried lavender buds

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
Lavender syrup

Preheat the oven to 350.    Spray 6 baby bundt pans with Pam.    

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into 1 bowl.   In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.     Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.   With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.    Add the palmful of lavender.     Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester placed in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice, the 1 T. of dried lavender and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clean.    Strain.    Set aside.

When the cakes are done, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.    Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.    While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar-lavender mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.    Cool.

For the glaze,  combine the powdered sugar and lavender syrup (bought at a specialty market in Minneapolis -- if you can't find, you could use lemon juice or make your own) and pour over the cake.

It's Thursday and I'm joining Kathleen for Let's Dish at Cuisine Kathleen and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.


The French Hutch said...

Those are some lucky winners from the class! Having lunch with you in your garden is a fabulous prize! The table looks lovely set under the pergola. Perfect time of year to have a menu using herbs. I love a table set using linens and yours is so elegant. The menu sounds delicious. Lovely post Martha.

the French Hutch

podso said...

What a lovely setting to have your lunch. Your corn _____ (cannot remember the name but it's not muffins) look so nice with the green decoration! I'm sure the time was memorable for your guests!

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

We have been so lucky here in the Midwest with such beautiful weather. Great for outdoor dining, which I do love. The little bundt cakes look delicious!

On Crooked Creek said...

What a lovely luncheon in the Garden @ Linderhof! The food looks divine. The dining spot in the Garden was absolutely heavenly! May on the Prairie has to be one of the BEST months! Soon, we'll be enjoying breakfast here on our side of the prairie! I can hardly wait. . .now that the exterior painting is over...we can begin to enjoy the out ~of ~doors before the sweltering Summer heat! Thank you for sharing your lovely Linderhof Garden with us!!!

Bookie said...

Another lovely luncheon outside for you and others!

Marilyn Miller said...

What a lovely setting for lunch or tea. Your food all looks delicious.

Rosemary said...

How simply perfect! What I would give to be able to sit at this table and enjoy that fabulous herbal luncheon! Simply delightful!

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Martha, you serve the prettiest luncheons. I would love to be a guest at that wonderful meal. I posted a lavender shortbread recipe. Your dessert looks heavenly.

The Tablescaper said...

Oh my, that lavender cake looks so divine!

- The Tablescaper

Meredith said...

What a beautiful setting. My herb garden has delighted many of my recipes too this season.

Aledia said...

What a lovely post and those lemon cakes look delish! Thank You so much for sharing the recipe!

Have a wonderful night!
Aledia @ Plum Perfect

allisamazing said...

What a pretty table and the outdoor setting is gorgeous. I love how you used herbs as your centerpiece - such a great idea! Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Alycia Nichols said...

I love the F. Winkle sugar bowl!!! I have some F. Winkle dishes that my Mom gave to me a few years ago, and I have become very interested in that maker's patterns. Your is really very pretty and works so nicely with your table overall. I have heard of using lavender in food, but I've never tried it. I love the way it smells and the look of it in massive bunches on my table, but I've just never gotten brave enough to toss some in food. The lemon Bundts look like the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl! Have a wondeful weekend!

Sandra said...

What a lovely setting for a luncheon. Everything looked so yummy. Thanks for sharing.

Marigene said...

Beautiful setting for a luncheon...I would love to be there!

Bernideen said...

What a nice recipe here with Lavender in it. Your luncheon looks wonderful!

Barbara said...

Such a lovely setting! I am sure your guests had a wonderful time. The food looks delicious. I have never eaten lavender but I sure love having it grow here. Have a wonderful weekend.

Sarah said...

I'm craving a slice of that cake. Lunching in the garden sounds perfect.

Elaine said...

What a magical place to share a meal! The food looks delicious! I am completely envious of the winner. Thank you so much for sharing!

Visiting from Let's Dish!

Creating Wonderful Spaces

Marlis said...

How wonderful for your guests.. the setting is divine.. As special as the food is. It looks absolutely scrumptious. I love the idea of the mini cakes with lavender.. I must try that. Thank you so much for sharing that. You have a beautiful gift and your willingness to share is so very special. have a blessed weekend, xo marlis

Sanghamitra Bhattacherjee(Mukherjee) said...

What a lovely setting! Great for outdoor dinner. Thanks for sharing.
Hope to see you on my blog:)

Jocelyn said...

How very lovely. And what a fabulous lunch.

Jocelyn @

Anonymous said...

What a delight....the food, the setting, everything!

Rowan said...

Lucky ladies to be able to have lunch in your garden - I love the herbal table decoration and those lemon lavender bundt cakes look fabulous.

The Norwegian said...

Your posts are always so inspiring!

Nann said...

Thanks for coming to my blog and making such sweet comments. I LOVE that you love lavender too. And this recipe sounds delicious. I'm going to peruse the rest of your blog to see all the other delights that you have posted about. I am now following you but would like to get your posts by email but can't see where to sign up. Also I looked for your chocolate lavender cake recipe and it alluded me.

I see you teach classes in Herbs and cooking with them. I'd sign up in a heartbeat but you're a wee too far for me like well over 1200 or more miles (smile.) But they sound wonderful. I too have taught my share of cooking classes and truly loved it. I can tell you are terrific at it. Love your blog! And so looking forward to seeing more.